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Oxidative desulfurization approach for hydrocarbons lowers costs

By Scott Jenkins |

Petroleum refineries must meet increasingly stringent levels for sulfur content in fuel, but the conventional hydrodesulfurization approach requires high-pressures and temperatures. Alternative Petroleum Technologies Corp. (APT; Reno, Nev.; www.altpetrol.com) has piloted an oxidative desulfurization technology, known as Sulfex, that can remove sulfur from liquid hydrocarbons at near-ambient pressures and temperatures. Eliminating the need for high pressures and temperatures cuts both capital and operating costs for sulfur removal by at least half, says APT. “The concept of oxidative desulfurization has been around for quite some time, but until now, successfully scaling up the process beyond laboratory scale has proved to be problematic,” explains Jack Waldron, APT vice president of engineering. Specifically, Waldron says that early large-scale oxidative desulfurization processes quickly attain equilibrium before adequate sulfur oxidation occurs, limiting its prospective commercial use. However, in the Sulfex process, sulfur-containing hydrocarbons are oxidized with hydrogen peroxide to form sulfones, which are separated from the hydrocarbon stream, thus avoiding the problems inherent in earlier systems. Taking advantage of its…
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